Advanced Business Writing
Presentation and Graphics

Data

Again, to keep graphics and data interesting and clear, use three steps:

1. Choose the right graphic.
2. Support it with words.
3. Keep it simple.

Choose the right graphic (and do the graphic right).

To show differences among items:

use a Bar Chart

 • Put scale on top or values on ends.
 • Make spaces smaller than bar width.
 • Shade the most important item (optional).

To show complex data:

use a Table Chart

 • Verify the audience tolerates this format.
 • Show time from left to right.
 • Show magnitude or importance from top to bottom.
 • Round numbers to 3 significant digits, or fewer.

Support it with words.

 • Make labels easy to read.
Place them horizontally, even if you must shrink a graphic. When possible, use full words instead of abbreviations.

 • Make the headline refer to the graphic.
Write the chart headline as if it were the heading of a newspaper article. Use dynamic words to summarize the main message of the chart, which should be about, or supported by, the graphic.

Keep it simple.

 • Make one point per chart.
Omit extra data, graphics, or fonts that might distract the audience.

 • Omit superfluous details.
Trim numbers to 2 or 3 significant digits. Avoid unnecessary grid lines, colors, and decorations.

Lesson: Data
Module: Presentation and Graphics
Course: Advanced Business Writing